Chain of Craters

4/5 (2 reviews)
The Chain of Craters Backcountry Byway is a 33-mile backcountry trail that winds through high mountain desert. Driving this unpaved road along a rift where lava flowed 200,000 years ago and seeing the 30 cinder cones left behind makes for a memorable experience. Located in El Malpais National Conse... Read More
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Highlights of Chain of Craters

Desert Category Icon Desert
Forest Category Icon Forest
Scenic Category Icon Scenic
Highest Elevation
7913 ft
Shape of Trail
Straight Through
Typically Open
Year Round
Best Direction
N/A
Official Trail Name
42
Nearest Town
Grants
Nearest Services
Grants
Management Agency
Bureau of Land Management
District
Rio Puerco Field Office

Overview

The Chain of Craters Backcountry Byway is a 33-mile backcountry trail that winds through high mountain desert. Driving this unpaved road along a rift where lava flowed 200,000 years ago and seeing the 30 cinder cones left behind makes for a memorable experience. Located in El Malpais National Conservation Area (NCA) and National Monument in northwestern New Mexico, the byway, which is County Road 42, passes almost exclusively through public lands. The trail forms the western boundary of the West Malpais Wilderness and connects NM 53 and NM 117. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, a 3,100-mile trail stretching from Mexico to Canada along the continental divide, intersects with the byway at multiple points. As a land feature, the term El Malpais - "the badlands" - is used locally and in other parts of the southwest to refer to lava flows.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

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Trail Guide Overview
21 Waypoints
65 Trail Photos
1 Trail Concerns
2 Community Reviews
1 Video
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